On May 25, 2013, The Fountain Theatre opened to a full house with the presentation of it's new Stephen Sachs play, Heart Song. Directed by Shirley Jo Finney, the show stars Pamela Dunlap as Rochelle, the middle aged Jewish woman, struggling with a crisis of faith and unable to come to terms with the death of the mother she never really knew when Tina, her Japanese American masseuse (Tamilyn Tomita) convinces her to join a flamenco class for "seasoned" out of shape women.
Resisting at first, Rochelle allows herself to be drawn into the circle as she meets the fiery teacher Katerina (Maria Bermudez/ Denise Blasor) and her classmates Daloris (Juanita Jennings) and the other women (Andrea Dantas, Mindy Krasner, Elissa Kyriacou and Sherrie Lewandowski.) At first, she has trouble opening up to her new friends, but then we learn the twist of her mother's real history and why Rochelle is so flummoxed.
The beautiful art of the flamenco dance, which means passion and fire, in Spanish, combine to show Rochelle, and us, the duality of faith and art. "It's all about duende, finding the deeper soul, unearthing that deep inner voice which lives inside us and can heal our inner wounds."
The acting was fabulous and the dancing spectacular thanks to Maria Bermudez who choreographed the dance as well as acted. Although Pamela's Hebrew when she says the Kaddish, prayer for the dead, over her mother's stone, could have used some work and maybe wasn't as Yiddish as I would have imagined. The play, itself, was so both funny and sad at the same time. Sachs deserves kudos for being able to effectively merge the two genres in such a seamless fashion.
The set design, by Tom Buderwitz was enhanced by Ken Booth's lighting and Bruno Louchouarn's sound. Lovely flamenco costumes were created by Dana Woods, while Misty Carlisle did props. Casting was accomplished by Cathy Reinking while Mitzi Delgado and Terri Roberts assisted Corey Womack in stage management. The flawless transitions between scenes was enhanced by the background music.
The passion of flamenco is celebrated here on a monthly basis in their "Forever Flamenco" series, which was created by Deborah Lawlor, who acts as consultant on this project.
The intimate Fountain Theatre, housed in a charming two story complex, provides for parking in the nearby lot at $5 (for non members. One can become a member by purchasing a series.) Performances are held Thursdays, Friday and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2pm and the play will run through July 14. Reserved seating tickets are $34, with students and seniors receiving a discount. The Fountain Theatre is located at 5060 Fountain avenue, one block east of Normandie. For more information call 323 663 1525 or www.FountainTheatre.com